Song Ci froze for only a moment before dismissing Wen Changchu’s conjecture. He shook his head firmly. “Impossible.”
“I haven’t even said anything yet.” Wen Changchu could not help muttering when he saw how sure Song Ci was. “Have you been bewitched?”
“I know what you want to say. You’re suspecting Master Rong is the Demon King, right?” Song Ci halted in his tracks and pulled Wen Changchu to a stop too, intending to have a proper discussion with him.
Wen Changchu nodded his head. “That’s right.”
“Then, let me ask you. It is said that the Demon King likes to kill. He has a bad temper and is tyrannical and ruthless. Is that true?” Song Ci asked.
Wen Changchu thought for a moment. Although he had never seen the Demon King, he had heard a lot about him. What he had heard was no different from Song Ci’s description. So he answered, “it should be true.”
“Then, you have heard what I had said to Master Rong back then. I was harmed by the Demon King, and my hatred of him runs deep. That day, I made it known to Master Rong that my sole purpose for going to the Demon Capital was for none other than to slay the Demon King and to raze the Demon Capital to the ground. If he was the Demon King himself, wouldn’t he have killed me right then on the street?”
“When I verbally attacked the Demon King, he had no reaction. He even promised to take me to the Demon Capital.” Song Ci continued rationally. “If he is truly the Demon King, then he is out of his mind.”
Having said so, he threw a question back at Wen Changchu. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
Wen Changchu was already more or less convinced after listening to Song Ci’s words. He nodded his head blankly. “It would seem so.”
Song Ci smiled triumphantly. “Exactly. I think you misremembered. Or perhaps it was just a coincidence that the Demon King and Master Rong have the same name.” After thinking about it, Song Ci warned him. “You must not mention these before Master Rong, lest he gets angry. The Demon King isn’t anything good. Master Rong is really unlucky to have the same name as him.”
Done with their conversation, they continued to head for the back mountain in high spirits.
Elsewhere in a dimmed room, the ears of the soundly sleeping white porcelain youth twitched slightly as if he had heard something. He slowly opened his beautiful eyes.
It was extremely dark at the back mountain; there was almost no light. By chance, the clouds were thick tonight, covering up the bright moon. Both men walked in the darkness. Although their visions were not affected, they still cowered slightly.
Song Ci was originally a human being, so he was not used to walking on dark roads without lights. Furthermore, the few times he was attacked by demons were all in such a silent and dark environment. This had cast a psychological shadow over his heart. He jabbed an elbow at Wen Changchu and asked, “Can you conjure up a lantern?”
Wen Changchu obviously did not like the paths at night either. His eyes seemed to shine brighter at night than in the daytime. He gulped and whispered, “This place is so dark. If we light a lantern, we will be instantly discovered. We can’t light one.”
What he said made sense. Song Ci gave up on getting a lantern and tugged Wen Changchu’s sleeve. “Then you’d better hurry. At this slow speed, it’ll be tomorrow morning by the time we reached.”
“I’m just afraid of going the wrong way. The back mountain is so big, who knows where that dungeon of captive demons is.” Wen Changchu fumed.
“I know. In any case, it isn’t here.” Song Ci said.
“Then you lead the way!” Wen Changchu pointed at the road ahead and blurted out. Shortly later, it hit him, and he asked, dazed, “You know? How do you know? Have you ever been here?”
Song Ci snorted softly. “I once had the fortune of coming here.”
It was a painful past, which Song Ci was unwilling to bring up. To cut Wen Changchu’s questioning short, he said, “The dungeon is in a low-lying ravine, and there is a tablet erected on the ground. It’s all trees here, so there’s still some distance to cover. Let’s hurry.”
He took Wen Changchu’s elbow and strode forward.
Wen Changchu wanted to ask how Song Ci had come to this place before, but when he saw that Song Ci was not willing to mention it, he tactfully let it go. Taking wide strides, he followed Song Ci into the depths of the back mountain.
Wen Changchu did not know the way, while Song Ci relied on his vague memory. Fumbling around, the two men actually found that dungeon. Unfortunately, as soon as they walked to the stone tablet, they came face-to-face with someone who was on the way out.
It was a young-looking woman.
She was all dressed in white with an outer layer of light blue muslin. Her black hair was spread out and adorned with a white hairpin.
The three of them locked eyes with one another and froze at the same time.
Song Ci was startled when he first laid eyes on the woman. He had found her strangely familiar even as he was thinking they were done for.
When he took a second glance, he wanted to turn around and run. He remembered that this was the woman of the pair whom Wen Changchu had dragged him along to peek at earlier, Elder Qingyuan.
Wen Changchu had already reacted by the time these thoughts flashed through Song Ci’s mind. He grabbed Song Ci’s arm, wanting to flee with him.
But Qingyuan’s gaze suddenly sharpened. Shaking her wrist fiercely, she threw out a long glowing whip and lashed out at the two men like a flurry of squall. The tip of the whip sliced the side of Song Ci’s face, the thin gash instantly drawing fresh blood.
Then she swung the whip again. This time, it was much faster than before. There was a crack as it brutally whipped Wen Changchu on the back. He frowned and let out a muffled groan. The hand that was holding on to Song Ci lost its strength, and his body was sent flying by the force of the whip. He crashed into a tree and tumbled to the ground.
Song Ci did not fall as badly as Wen Changchu; he rolled aside into the grass. As the earlier sound of the whip exploded clearly in his ear, Song Ci could not help but worry.
When Wen Changchu stood up, his entire back was covered in blood flowing down in never-ending streams. He reached out to touch it and saw his palm partially drenched in red. He gave a cold, furious laugh as his eyes reddened with murderous intent.
Black fog spilled out from his body. Just a moment ago, he still appeared to be a mortal youth. The next moment, he had grown a pair of gray furry ears, and a fluffy tail swung behind him. His black eyes looked as if they were stained with blood. A demonic aura surrounded him.
He opened his mouth, revealing sharp white fangs. His words were chilling. “You old hag. You’re asking for death.”
This Wen Changchu was a genuine demon. Each of his words was filled with a merciless intent to kill. It was as if he would start a massacre the next moment.
Elder Qingyuan indiscriminately made her move without giving them a chance to explain. Song Ci sat up from the ground and hid in a corner. He was at a loss.
Qingyuan stopped paying attention to Song Ci when she saw Wen Changchu’s appearance. She growled, “You reckless little demon, how dare you break into Mo Yao?! I’ll extract your demon bone today to create a hairpin out of it!”
Song Ci subconsciously looked at the hairpin on her head. Sure enough, the color was not translucent like jade. It really looked as if it was made of bone. Song Ci could not help shuddering.
After her harsh shouts, Qingyuan swung her whip at Wen Changchu. Although he was injured, he was still agile. Song Ci did not know if it was because Qingyuan was too formidable that she managed to hit her target two or three times.
Song Ci looked on anxiously as Wen Changchu leaped around. He was thinking of countermeasures when he caught Wen Changchu throwing him a look. Wen Changchu craftily winked his left eye at Song Ci, then disappeared into the darkness. Qingyuan angrily chased after him.
Was he telling him to escape first?
Right! Flee first, then find Master Rong!
Song Ci remained in his hiding place for a while. It was only after he heard the sounds of their movements receding into the distance that he dashed away as fast as he could in the direction where they had come. He was in such a panic that he nearly crashed into a tree.
Just as he was sprinting, a hand suddenly reached out from the darkness and circled around his waist. The strength of the hand was so strong it directly halted his momentum. Song Ci had yet to react when that person pressed him up against the tree.
Song Ci was scared out of his wits and almost let out a yell when a warm hand covered his mouth. A deep voice rang out beside his ear, “Don’t scream.”
At the same time, Song Ci got a clear look at the person before him. He immediately breathed a sigh of relief and suppressed the cry back into his stomach. All that was left was his violently heaving chest, an after-effect of his earlier desperate run.
Rong Bai’s faint and impassive eyes drooped slightly. His fingers were covered in a layer of dampness as Song Ci breathed out hot air. He changed hands and his thumb gently brushed across the wound on Song Ci’s face, wiping off that unsightly streak of red away along with the wound.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” Unlike his actions, Rong Bai’s voice was lacking in its usual gentleness, carrying with it a tinge of indifference instead.